I made my way down to the far end of my brother-in-law’s field, and the sun rose higher. It was pushing 100 degrees. From one tree to the next, I scooped two-year-old Joshua and carried him 20 feet down the line to the next tree, where I carefully planted 20-inch chestnut saplings.
Elijah, 4, tagged along with us, getting hot and tired and occasionally asking to be carried. “At the end of this row, we’ll rest in the shade next to the woods,” I promised. Running ahead, he waited for us in the cover of the towering trees.
Soon Joshua and I were sitting next to Elijah on a pile of dirt. I gazed over the field with 1,930 trees. Julia and Austin were helping elsewhere in the area. Hosanna and Jesse took rides on the trailers hitched to tractors, slowly making their way throughout the field, delivering trees and drinks. Joshua spied Daddy’s yellow tractor, bringing cold water and drinks to the 40-plus church people putting in posts, planting, and sliding shelters over the young trees.
There were people scattered throughout, yet no one close to where we were seated. My mind traveled to that unforgettable day we planted our chestnut trees in our eleven-acre field. Daniel, determined to do all he could to make things flow smoothly, had planted grass seeds as soon as the beans were harvested.
With the help of Daniel’s dad and several others, we marked off where each tree would be planted. Long straight rows of little flags were stuck in the ground, keeping the promise of a chestnut grove in the making.
Early that morning, I had sleepily rolled over in bed to discover Daniel’s space to be empty. Pulling back the curtain, I peered out. Way back yonder in the field, I spied the headlights of our tractor going back and forth, back and forth, as he planted the last grass seed in preparation of placing the rest of the flags. Happy to just be his wife, I nestled back under the covers and finished my night. Later, when I took a breakfast sandwich out for him he admitted that he’d been at it since 2:30 that morning. What a go-getter, I certainly would never need to worry about not being cared for!
Now I gazed over the field — a field full of men, women, children, no Daniel. I asked Elijah about his memories of our tree planting day. “That was years ago!” He declared.
“Yes, you are right; it was a while ago — almost a year.”
The trees had arrived on a special day. We were delighted to have Daniel’s dream of getting chestnuts fulfilled on his birthday, Aug. 28. This year as the date rolls around, I am sad not to be able to celebrate it as always. Yet, I look at the field of chestnuts and marvel at the blessings God has given. Blessings that allowing Daniel to be motivated to plant the grove will provide many years of livelihood for the children and me.
Soon the tractor came driving down the row, ready to spread more trees to be planted. Thanks to Julia for taking the children to the house to cool off, I could now move more swiftly along the rows. As I planted, I thought of a young woman in a neighboring community whose husband was in an accident yesterday. I couldn’t help but cry as I packed dirt around the tender roots. Here her beloved hung between life and death. How intense, how entirely grueling. I was comforted as I cried out to the Father for her; surely, he is able to carry her through this time of utter exhaustion and pain.
By lunchtime, a crew of sweaty sun-kissed faces headed up to the house, ready for shade and food. Virginia had prepared a refreshing summer dinner of sandwiches, chips, fruit slush, cake, and iced coffee. The slush hit the spot, especially on a hot day as such!
After a good break, the race was on. For a rare treat, John had ordered eight 30-inch pizzas for supper, which were to be delivered at 4. Would we have all the trees planted by then?
At 3:45, the last tractor pulled up to the house; everyone hopped off and took a seat in the backyard, ready for pizza and root beer floats.
Root beer floats are refreshing, but so is this delicious, refreshing summer banana slush that is a favorite around here this time of year!
Refreshing Summer Banana Slush
Six bananas, sliced
6 ounces orange juice concentrate
1 cup of water
1/2 cup sugar or to taste
One teaspoon stevia (optional)
Stir all together, refrigerate or freeze.
If you like, try adding a handful of grapes, blueberries, raspberries, or some crushed pineapple for some extra flavor.
If you serve frozen, eat with a spoon.
If refrigerated, drink with a straw.
Gloria Yoder is an Amish mom, writer, and homemaker in rural Illinois. The Yoders travel primarily by horse-drawn buggy and live next to the settlement’s one-room school-house. Readers can write to Gloria at 10510 E. 350th Ave., Flat Rock, IL 62427